According to World Food Programme (WFP), 12.4 million Syrians are food insecure and have difficulty accessing their basic meal, which is 60% of the country’s population, increasing by an “astonishing” rate of 4.5 million over the past year alone. While another 1.8 million are at risk of food insecurity “unless urgent humanitarian action is taken.
The repercussions of the application of the “Protection of Civilians in Syria” law, known as the “Caesar Act,” are evident in the wave of panic that has struck Syrian and Arab businessmen and traders dealing with the Syrian state for fear of international sanctions that have begun to affect some of them.
States in favour of Caesar’s law claim that the law is intended to deny Syrian President Bashar al-Assad any opportunity to turn his military victory on the ground into a political gain by which he would devote his chances of remaining in power indefinitely. The penalties provided for by law target entities working for Syria in four sectors: Oil and natural gas, aircraft manufacturing, construction and engineering.
Under these conditions of siege, the Syrian people face an unusual “livelihood” crisis, which has become difficult and beyond the reach of the vast majority of Syrians in Syria. Hungry mouths have lost hope of improving their living conditions under this blockade, in which only peoples are affected. In this context, some analysts consider that the sanctions of the Caesar Act do not punish the Syrian regime as much as the Syrians because it drives their lives into more poverty and suffering.
The sanctions affecting people dramatically
The main reason for this is that the sanctions imposed by law affect vital institutions that secure basic life supplies from food, clothing and medicines for millions of Syrians. Examples of such institutions include the Central Bank of Syria and a number of other banks, oil and gas sectors, mail, Syrian airlines and export and import companies for goods and services. Therefore, the United States must recognise that the sanctions imposed by the law will indirectly affect a large part of the Syrian people, and we must work to mitigate their consequences for helping and targeting the affected segments of the law.
With continued economic pressure and Western and American sanctions on Syria, the fuel and bread crisis in the country has worsened. The blockade has impeded the arrival of oil products, creating a new crisis. The crisis has caused prices to rise dramatically, exacerbating the difficulties faced by the Syrian people for more than 10 years.
For months, Syria has been in crisis in securing bread, owing to the control of wheat production areas in the north of Syria by the American-backed forces of Qasad, adding to the burning of large areas of agricultural land, which has exacerbated the difficulties faced by the Syrian people for more than 10 years. It became evident that Caesar’s law was targeting the Syrian people, who for 10 years had prevented the passage of foreign political agendas.
Independent experts hired by UN Council for Human Rights calls to stop sanctions
In the light of this tragic situation, and the suffering of people by denying them access to food, independent United Nations human rights experts called for an end to the punishment of “innocent civilians” through Caesar’s law, and called upon States imposing unilateral sanctions on other States to withdraw or at least reduce them, to ensure that the rule of law and human rights, including the right to development, are not compromised.
This call comes from independent experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council, while sanctioned countries, such as Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and Iran, are experiencing deteriorating economic conditions, livelihood crises and deterioration in the local currency, the effects of which are directly affecting citizens. The experts said that unilateral coercive measures taken by some governments deprived many people around the world of the right to personal development, as well as impeding sustainable national development. They recalled, as well, that the United Nations General Assembly had proclaimed the right to development an “inalienable human right,” which was recognised by a “set of multilateral human rights declarations,” including the “African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights” and the “Arab Charter on Human Rights.”
Experts explained that people in targeted countries such as Venezuela, Cuba, Syria and Iran were plunging into poverty because they could not access basic services such as electricity, housing, water, gas and fuel, as well as medicine and food.
They also explained that “sanctions make it difficult for an entire population to maintain their health, impede the transport of goods for economic development, waste natural resources, undermine environmental sustainability and achieve sustainable development goals”.
We also call for the lifting of sanctions against these States, because poor people are the only affected, not the regimes. The greatest witness to this, is the situation of the peoples of those countries to which the sanctions have been imposed.